The scar was a nasty looking viscous thing, a man made event of terror and anger, and this was all before there was any sort of skill at surgery to reduce the affects of such a wound. Her husband had held her down, and if he couldn’t have her, no other man would want her either, and he broke a beer bottle off into her face, and ground it in like he was putting out a cigar in the dirt.
People stared at it, because it was hard not to stare, but she didn’t care after a while. It took three bouts with a knife to get all the glass out, and get everything back to as good as it was going to get, but because she was very poor, and because no one has ever cared how poor women looked, she wound up with a scar that defined how people would see her forever.
You don’t think about it right off the bat then you realize that poor women have very few options when it comes to jobs. In South Georgia, there are even fewer opportunities, and the scar weeded out some of those, as he had likely planned. Being a waitress was out, totally out of the question, because people would freak out. Some people really did freak out when they met her for the first time.
She told people it was from a car wreck, and that kept the number of questions down a bit, and that was the first story I heard from her. There was a small bar, really quite just a local place, and she would sit on the corner stool, with her scar side to the wall, and wait to see who would come speak with her. It was an odd thing that I like to watch; men would sit down, buy her a beer, and then at some point she would turn her head and it was as if she puked up a snake. They would make small talk but their body language usually put as much distance from her as they could and more than one fled the scene during a bathroom break.
She and I sat down one day, and she told me what happened, and how it had happened, and how it felt to feel the broken glass hit the bone, and how she could feel her teeth without opening her mouth, and that was when she knew it was bad, really bad. She said when they took her to the ER she knew it was bad because none of the doctors or nurses were talking about it, or talking to her, and she remembered one of the doctors calling someone in the ER to get blood, which she thought was amusing because blood was everywhere.
She and I smoked pot together, and I noticed she liked to sit with the left side of her face away from whoever she was speaking with, so one day I trapped her on the sofa with her scar showing towards me, and refused to change seats with her.
“Okay, stare, take a closer look, poke at it if you want to, okay, just get it over with” she told me, and I kissed her on the cheek, and that really blew her mind.
She would never be beautiful, not in the way most people define it these days, but I thought she carried her scar with a lot of class, and with grace, and the fact that I kissed her caught her off guard. I told her the scar was a lot like a woman having large breasts, and people would star, always, but sooner or later, someone would stop staring long enough to hear what she had to say, and I told her to stop lying about it, and just tell people she had been attacked by an ex.
No, she said, that made people feel sorry for her, or sorrier for her, and she hated that. If it was a car accident that was more of a quirk of nature , and I had to allow that made sense. She told me she wasn’t going to sleep with me, and it was only because I was a lot younger than she was, and I had no idea what I was getting into, and I didn’t understand that then, but I do now. She was only a couple of years older than I but she had gone through things I couldn’t imagine, and honestly, she didn’t have the time to raise me. I had never had a woman call me innocent before, and I understand what she meant now, but then it was just confusing.
We talked for the better part of the night, with a pause for another beer, for a joint to be rolled, or for the album to be turned over, or another one played. She forgot what side of me she was sitting on, and I forgot the scar, or rather it just became a part of who she was, and where she had been. It was one of the first conversations I had ever had with a woman who had been born poor, raised poor, and who had never had a job in her life that wasn’t minimum wage or less. My middle class upbringing was something she thought would have been incredibly happy for her to have lived. She had never lived in a house before, or at least not one turned into a duplex, and she wanted a garden, and a little fish pond, one day.
She changed her mind about sleeping with me, and told me so, and it was one of the first times in my life a woman had come right out and told me she did want to sleep with me, and it was fun, and it didn’t matter what sort of scar she was wearing. But she was centuries older than I, and I was still very young. The next morning she got up, told me it had been nice, but she really must be going.